Professional Futures Conference:  Challenges and opportunities for 21st Century professions

What makes a profession (and professionals)?

  • History of the professions in western societies. Are there different views of what makes a profession in Asian societies (especially in China, India and Japan)? Are they conceived, structured and divided in different ways?
  • Ideals and realities of professions and professional life
  • Ethics, Professional integrity and Public Trust
  • Scandals in new and old professions (with the largest currently involving the oldest ‘learned’ profession, the priesthood).
  • New and Emerging professions – including some professions that emerge from others (e.g. management consultants emerge from accountancy and insolvency practitioners emerge from a number of professions).
  • The combination of being a union, a monopoly, an industry and (in part at least) a self-regulator.
  • Globalisation – recognizing that pre-Westphalian cosmopolitan professions became (sub-) nationally regulated Westphalian professions and are now moving to global professions. Recognition of professional skills – bottom up and top down (e.g. Engineer’s “Washington accord”)
  • Nature of professional expertise

Technology and the professions

  • Angst, Algorithms and AI: Threats and Disruptions?
  • Opportunities? What can be done better or more extensively with technology and AI. There is a great deal of preventable disease and there is ‘an awful lot of justice to be done’. Can streamlining technology allow that much more people to live and a lot more ‘justice to be done’.
  • Disruption to the public good(s) professions seek to serve and disruption to the professions that serve them.
  • New and emerging jobs within professions and professional firms – e.g. managers and technology experts. Relationship of them to the ethics and practice of the profession and professional firms
  • Will technology serve professions or will professions serve technology
  • Implications of the Royal Commission into the banking/financial services sector

The Role of Professional education

  • What can and should be taught at university

- Ethics
- Skills
- Issues above

  • Should we be returning to the traditional professional approach of Life-long learning – before university, at university, professional training, CPD and other post-admission education? Compare this to traditional professions in which learning on the job was central. What are the training gaps and when and how should they be fulfilled?
  • #Metoo (and #WeToo – implying that these issues are for all of us to address)

The Changing Institutional Contexts of Professional Life

  • Will technology lead to structural change in the professions
  • The increasing tendency for professionals to be employed by large organisations – large firms, corporatized practice, corporations – with questions about the duties of employed professionals to their professions and the codes of ethics of their employers (corporate or governmental) – and how to react to senior public servants or CEOs who expect employed professionals to ‘do as they are told’.
  • The need for professionals to work together with other professionals to succeed: e.g. lawyers, accountants, engineers and IT professionals in commercial advice, finance in large accounting firms and merchant banks e.g. doctors and allied health professionals in hospitals.
  • The increasing operations in markets – leading to questioning of both professional and market models
  • The potential role of professionals to contribute to governance because of the desire of real professionals to further the public good to which their profession is formally dedicated rather than merely comply with the minimum standards required. Related to this is the role of some professionals in taking more seriously contributions to environmental, social and human rights issues.

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